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State Laws for Age Limits to Get a Tattoo and Body Piercing

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Worried your child would get a tattoo or body piercing without your knowledge? If they’re persistent in their decision, you could talk them into getting a henna tattoo or an earring instead. If they don’t listen, don’t fret, you’re not the only perplexed parent. That’s one uncertainty all parents of teen boys and girls end up dealing with. As some consolation, part of your worry should go away once you know the answers to the questions: At what age can you get a tattoo or body piercing in your home state? And, does a minor — a child below the age of 18 — in your state, by law, require a parent’s written consent before getting either tattooed or pierced? 

This article will be going through what each state has set as the age limit for body piercing and tattooing. You’ll also find out if your state permits the under-aged (minors) to get inked or pierced with specific conditions. 

Most states have set this limit to be 18 years old. In those states, once you turn 18, you can get a tattoo or piercing. And, if you’re a minor, they’ll allow you to get pierced if you furnish proof of parental consent. Or, depending on the state, it may be mandatory that a parent or guardian be physically present at the time the tattoo or body piercing procedure is taking place.

Keep In Mind…

A few of the states have specific rules for each type of piercing. For instance, ear-piercing may be legal for minors, yet a tongue piercing may require authorization from a parent. Furthermore, there have been situations wherein certain tattoo artists or body piercers end up breaking the law by inking or piercing teens without seeking their parent’s consent. 

Artists should know, no one is above the law. Tattooing or body piercing on under-aged individuals who haven’t got their parent’s permission is a misdemeanor. They could face hefty fines and even lose their business license.

Want to know at what age can you get a tattoo or body piercing? Curious to know whether your state allows minors to get tattoos or body piercing upon furnishing parental authorization? Here are the state-specific age limits and rules:

USA State Laws: What Age can You Get a Tattoo or Piercing

In the absence of federal law regulating tattooing, all 50 of the United States, including the District of Columbia, have in force proper statutory laws for the practice of tattooing and body art. These laws require that the person be a minimum of 18 years of age (i.e., the age of majority). The basis for this age limit criterion is the legal principle that minors cannot get into legal contracts. Moreover, in the United States, a minor must render informed consent before any procedure. 

That said, a majority of states allow persons under the age of 18 (i.e., minors) to get tattoos and body piercings with prior permission from a parent or legal guardian. On the other hand, a few states prohibit it if you’re below a specific age, even if the minor has written consent unless it’s a medical necessity. 

The following are the current laws in respect to the legal status of tattooing and body piercing for each state. As a tip, you should periodically update your knowledge with the latest changes in laws in your state. 

Alabama

  • Tattoo: Minors (those aged below 18) need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Alaska

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo. Not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must also be present when the body piercing takes place.

Arizona

  • Tattoo: Minors need consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place.

Arkansas

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place.

California

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo. Not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place.

Colorado

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Connecticut

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Delaware

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Florida

  • Tattoo: Minors need written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Georgia

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo. Not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian. However, tattooing of a minor can be done for “medical/cosmetic reasons” by a licensed physician or osteopath, or even by a technician working directly under the supervision of a licensed physician or osteopath. Furthermore, under any circumstances, it is not permissible to tattoo within an inch of the eye socket.
  • Body Piercing: Ear piercing is permitted without parental/guardian permission. Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian for all other types of body piercings.  

Hawaii

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian to get a tattoo in Hawaii.
  • Body Piercing: There is currently no age limit on piercings.

Idaho

  • Tattoo: Minors below the age of 14 cannot get a tattoo. Minors aged 14 to 18 need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors below the age of 14 cannot get body piercing. Minors aged 14 to 18 need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. Minors may get their ears pierced without written consent.

Illinois

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Indiana

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place.

Iowa

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: There are no state laws governing body piercing in Iowa. Body piercing, however, may be under the regulation of individual county or city laws.

Kansas

  • Tattoo: Minors need written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. Note, minors may have ear piercings done without written consent. 

Kentucky

  • Tattoo: Minors need written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written, notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Louisiana

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place.

Maine

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Maryland

  • Tattoo: There are currently no state laws regulating age limits for getting tattoos. However, generally, written consent is required by tattoo artists before tattooing a minor.
  • Body Piercing: Except for ear lobe piercing, written parental/legal guardian consent is required before a minor undergoes other types of body piercing.

Massachusetts

  • Tattoo: There are currently no state laws regulating age limits for getting tattoos. However, this may vary under the regulation of individual county or city laws.
  • Body Piercing: Minors may get body piercing, except on genitalia, upon furnishing written consent by a parent or legal guardian. Piercing on genitalia is permitted only after achieving the age of maturity — 18 years of age. 

Michigan

Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in person in the presence of the person performing the tattoo procedure.

Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in the presence of the person performing the body piercing procedure.

Minnesota

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors need to submit a witnessed written consent form from a parent or legal guardian. In addition to that, the parent or legal guardian must be present during the piercing session. Minors may get a body piercing, except in nipples or genitals. Furthermore, the following are also prohibited for minors: branding, suspension, microdermal, scarification, subdermal implantation, and bifurcation of the tongue. 

Mississippi

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors cannot get body piercings, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The only exception is piercing the outer perimeter or lobe of the ear.

Missouri

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in person in the presence of the person performing the tattoo procedure.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in the presence of the person performing the body piercing procedure.

Montana

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in person in the presence of the person performing the tattoo procedure. The Montana regulations stress that the parent/guardian must give “explicit, in-person” consent.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in the presence of the person performing the body piercing procedure. The Montana regulations stress that the parent/guardian must give “explicit, in-person” consent.

Nebraska

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in person in the presence of the person performing the tattoo procedure.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form in the presence of the person performing the body piercing procedure.

Nevada

  • Tattoo: There are currently no state laws regulating age limits for getting tattoos. Nevertheless, the regional health districts have the power to regulate the practice in their district. 
  • Body Piercing: There are currently no state laws regulating age limits for body piercings or other body art. Nevertheless, the regional health districts have the power to regulate the practice in their district. 

New Hampshire

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. However, a minor may get his or her ears pierced without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

New Jersey

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The parent or legal guardian must be present for all types of body piercing, including ear piercings. However, minors cannot, under any circumstances, get genital piercings even after obtaining their parent or guardian’s consent.

New Mexico

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. However, ear piercing and medical procedures by physicians are exempt for minors.

New York

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consent has to be signed in the presence of the body piercing artist or their employee. Ear piercing is exempt from this rule. 

North Carolina

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. Ear piercing is exempt from this rule. 

North Dakota

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consent has to be signed in the presence of the tattoo artist or their employee.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consent has to be signed in the presence of the body piercing artist or their employee.

Ohio

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place.

Oklahoma

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian. Scleral tattooing is illegal in Oklahoma.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. 

Oregon

  • Tattoo: Minors can get a tattoo with prior authorization from a physician. 
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The parent or legal guardian must also present proof of identity. For minors, piercing on genitals or nipples isn’t allowed even with parental or guardian consent. Furthermore, minors are not permitted to get piercing on the testes, deep shaft (corpus cavernosum), uvula, eyelids, and sub-clavicle.

Pennsylvania

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place.

Rhode Island

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. 

South Carolina

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian. 
  • Body Piercing: The parent or legal guardian of a minor can either give written, notarized consent or be present during the body piercing procedure.

South Dakota

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Tennessee

  • Tattoo: Minors over the age of 16 may get a tattoo to cover up their existing tattoo upon furnishing their parent or legal guardian’s written consent. The minor’s parent or legal guardian must be present during the procedure.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. 

Texas

  • Tattoo: Minors may get a tattoo to cover up an existing tattoo if it’s deemed “obscene or offensive” and the parents or legal guardian considers it “in the best interest.” Further, the minor will need written consent from the parent or legal guardian as well as ensure the parent or legal guardian is present during the procedure. An affidavit will also have to be signed for prooving parentage or guardianship.
  • Body Piercing: Except for ear piercings, minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian for all other body piercings. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. An affidavit will also have to be signed for prooving parentage or guardianship. 

Utah

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The parent or guardian must be present during the procedure with their proof of identity. 
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The parent or guardian must be present during the procedure with their proof of identity. Ear piercing is permitted without consent. 

Vermont

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Virginia

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. Ear piercing is permitted without consent. 

Washington

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo, not even with written consent from a parent or legal guardian.  
  • Body Piercing: Currently, there are no laws in existence specifying age limits for body piercing.

West Virginia

  • Tattoo: Minors need written consent from a parent or legal guardian. Furthermore, all persons about to get a tattoo must first attest that they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Body Piercing: Currently, there are no laws in existence specifying age limits for body piercing.

Wisconsin

  • Tattoo: Minors cannot get a tattoo unless they’re a physician undergoing professional practice.
  • Body Piercing: Currently, there are no laws in existence specifying age limits for body piercing.

Wyoming

  • Tattoo: Minors need verbal consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the tattooing takes place.
  • Body Piercing: Minors need verbal consent from a parent or legal guardian. The consenting parent or legal guardian must be present when the body piercing takes place. Ear piercing is permitted without consent. 

Giving Written Consent (For Under-Aged Teens Opting to Get Tattoo or Piercing)

It’s not uncommon for rebellious under-aged teens to think of forging a consent form. To prevent forgeries, the States that ask for a written consent form from minors have set certain fool-proof measures. This helps concerned parents not have to deal with a teen who gets the consent written by themselves or a friend.

To take care of forgeries, some states require a notarized consent form. Doing so ensures the parent or legal guardian is writing and signing the consent letter or form. Most states are also ensuring that parents write the consent with specific details. For instance, a parent should document the exact type of tattoo or body piercing along the placement they’re allowing. Some states also require that the parent or legal guardian be present throughout the entire tattoo or piercing procedure.

Final Thoughts

Talking to your child is the recommended first step before abruptly refuting all their independent choices. If they badly want a tattoo or body piercing and they’re not 18 yet, you could ask them to be patient for a few more years. You could even talk them into trying fake tattoo sleeves. If they’re an extremely rebellious teen, you could check your state laws and begin with gradual permissions. 

The gradual progression could mean talking them down to a simple ear lobe piercing. Or, giving them written consent for a simple tattoo on a safe location. In any case, whether the state laws require it or not, you should accompany your minor to the business where the tattoo or piercing procedure will happen. Remember, the hygiene level, equipment, and experience of the artist all matter for your child’s well-being.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!